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Ofir Barak
Ofir Barak
Ofir Barak

Ofir Barak

Country: Israel

My name is Ofir Barak, I'm a photographer based here in Jerusalem.

I can honestly say that I have been an artistic person all my life. I started out as a painter and was very passionate about it from a very early age. In 2013 I was lacking the motivation to create I was frustrated and I decided to put it aside and look for a new path to express myself through art.

I needed to travel somewhere and clear my mind and look for answers. In order to move beyond my struggle, I needed to surround myself with every form of art I could find - literature, poetry, paintings, architecture - anything goes. I remembered that the museums in D.C have free admission, so I decided to go there. Each day I wandered into a different museum and enjoyed the art galleries. One day, accidentally, I entered an exhibition of a photographer from the wrong side - where people exit. I didn't know who the photographer was, but I was struck by his images.

At that moment, I had an epiphany - this is what I want to do. This is what I can do. I spent two hours at the gallery and realized that I just couldn't consume it all in once. I went back there three more times to learn about the photographer - Garry Winogrand and each time I focused on different photographs. In the exhibition there was also a small screening room showing his famous talk at Rice University. I took a notebook with me each visit and sat at the corner of the room - writing down what I want to achieve and how. After returning home, i decided to work on a first project of my own.

Between the years 2014 and 2017, I photographed constantly and on a weekly basis the neighborhood of Mea Shearim. I attended protests, holidays and weekdays tring to present a full documentation of a religious society here in Jerusalem. After 3 years and 15k pictures, a self published book was released under the title of "Mea Shearim - The streets".

The project was well received within the world of photography rewarding me a Magnum Photos prize for the street photograph of the year, and a nomination for a Hasselblad masters in 2018. Parts of the project were exhibited in different locations including the jewish museum in berlin, the Lucie foundation - Month of photography photo book exhibition in the Us and many others.

After completing this project, I have realized it has now become a starting point to a much larger project regarding religion in Jerusalem and a three parts books. The book is sold here at the event and if you liked the talk, feel free to take a look in the open copy and purchase one.


About the Streets of Mea Shearim

During the 1870s the city within the walls of Jerusalem were undergoing a serious crisis. An increase in population, especially in the Jewish quarter, resulted in high housing prices and poor sanitation.The Ottoman government failed to remove garbage dumps and eventually the pollution seeped into the water pits, causing a rise in disease and mortality rates among the population within the walls. This drove the Jewish community to establish neighborhoods outside the walls, and by 1873 four such neighborhoods were built - "Mishkenot Sha'ananim" (1880), "Mahane Israel" (1886), "Nahalat Shiva" (1869) and "Beit David" (1873).

A small group of about one-hundred young Ashkenazi Jews who believed that moving outside the walls would help them improve their standard of living, decided in 1874 to combine their resources. They were able to purchase a tract of land outside the walls for a new settlement. It would have one-hundred houses and would serve as the fifth neighborhood outside the city walls. The name which they chose for that piece of land, Mea Shearim, was derived from a verse in the Torah portion that was read in the week the neighborhood was founded: "Isaac sowed in that land, and in that year he reaped a hundredfold (Mea Shearim); God had blessed him" (Genesis 26:12).

Construction began around April 1874, by both Jewish and non-Jewish workers. Contractors, builders and plasterers were Christian Arabs from Bethlehem, and Jewish craftsmen also contributed. By December 1874, the first ten houses were standing. At first Mea Shearim was a courtyard neighborhood, surrounded by four walls with gates that were locked every evening. By October 1880, 100 apartments were ready for occupancy and a lottery was held to assign them to families. Between the years 1881 and 1917, more houses and neighborhoods were built. New neighborhoods surrounded Mea Shearim and helped establish a large Jewish presence outside the walls. By the turn of the century there were 300 houses, a flour mill, and a bakery.

Mandatory Palestine under British administration had been carved out of Ottoman southern Syria after World War I. The British civil administration in Palestine operated from 1920 until 1948. During its existence the country was known simply as Palestine. The British regime was welcomed by the residents of Mea Shearim, who maintained good relations with the authorities for the good of the neighborhood. As a result, access roads to the area were improved, the neighborhood markets prospered, old shops were renovated, and new shops opened. Mea Shearim continued to grow, and by 1931 it was the third largest neighborhood in Jerusalem. This growth enhanced the neighborhood's status and importance, but daily life became more difficult, as many of the houses were populated with a large number of people resulting in sanitary conditions that endangered their health. The neglect of the Ottoman regime continued to set the tone, and lack of proper drainage caused rain to flood the streets and even people homes. There was a rise in poverty, resulting not only in a deterioration of the houses outer appearance but also in a spread of diseases. The neighborhood's uniform appearance also began to change, as different kinds of constructions materials came into use, resulting in non-uniform façades. Cheap tin became an alternative to the Jerusalem stone commonly used for construction.

In 1948 the Arab-Israeli war broke out and Jerusalem was divided between two countries - Israel and Jordan. The border was very close to Mea Shearim and the neighborhood suffered from military attacks and damage to buildings. Within the next 20 years ,the neighborhood would suffer from decreasing population as the children of the second founding generation moved to orthodox neighborhoods nearby, leaving as few as 170 houses occupied out of a total of 304. In later years the residents returned and the population grew once again. The population remained isolated and segregated, because it refused to cooperate with the government of Israel. Street posters (Pashkvilim) began to appear on a public walls calling on residents not to serve in the Israeli army, not to vote or be elected to the Israeli parliament, and not to participate in Israel's Independence Day celebrations.

Today, Mea Shearim remains loyal to its old customs and preserves its isolation in the heart of Jerusalem while trying to stave off the modern world; it is, in a way, frozen in time. The numerous renovations of houses at the end of the 20th century hardly affected the appearance of the neighborhood. They are still common today but fewer in numbers. Houses that were built over one hundred years ago stand alongside a few new ones. The life of the Hasidic community still revolves around strict adherence to Jewish law, prayer, and the study of Jewish religious texts. The large majority of the people are Ashkenazim; there are hardly Sephardic Jews in the neighborhood. In addition to some well-to-do family there are also many needy ones, which are helped by local charity institutions. The traditional dress code remains in effect here; for men and boys it includes black frock coats and black hats. Long, black beards cover their faces and many of them grow side curls called "payots".Women and girls are urged to wear what is considered to be modest dress - knee-length or longer skirts, no plunging necklines or midriff tops, no sleeveless blouses or bare shoulders. Some women wear thick black stockings all year long, and married women wear a variety of hair coverings, from hats to wigs and headscarves. The common language of daily communication in Mea Shearim is Yiddish, in contrast to the Hebrew spoken by the majority of Israel's Jewish population. Hebrew is used by the residents only for prayer and religious study, as they believe that Hebrew is a sacred language to be used only for religious purposes.

This is the story of the ongoing battle between the old and the new, the past versus the present, this is the everyday life of a city within a city.

My grandmother and I had a special bond.

We developed a habit that once a week, usually on Mondays, we cleared our schedule and sat down to discuss the photographs I took. We talked the stories behind the photos, the people, even how the weather affected the light in the pictures. At first, photography was something foreign for both of us and with time, we developed a passion for it. We loved our gatherings and anticipated them every week. In early 2014 things changed, we had fewer opportunities for our weekly routine as her health had begun to deteriorate. She received treatments on a weekly basis and eventually had to be under medical supervision and hospitalized. On one of the visits as I sat by her bed, I wanted to ease her mind from the treatments she received and asked if she would like to see a photograph I took the day before. She immediately said yes and was very enthused when I showed her the photograph. We ended up taking and analyzing the photo as we used to, freeing our minds from the hospital room we were in. Neither of us knew that it would be our last time together.

After her death, I decided to do a project based on the last photograph she ever saw. This one photo has led me on a journey, photographing the streets of Mea Shearim.

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Lives in Hong Kong, born Munich, Germany. The focus of the german photographer michael wolf’s work is life in mega cities. many of his projects document the architecture and the vernacular culture of metropolises. wolf grew up in canada, europe and the united states, studying at uc berkeley and at the folkwang school with otto steinert in essen, germany. he moved to hong kong in 1994 where he worked for 8 years as contract photographer for stern magazine. since 2001, wolf has been focusing on his own projects, many of which have been published as books. Wolf’s work has been exhibited in numerous locations, including the venice bienniale for architecture, aperture gallery, new york; museum centre vapriikki, tampere, finland, museum for work in hamburg, germany, hong kong shenzhen biennial, museum of contemporary photography, chicago. his work is held in many permanent collections, including the metropolitan museum of art in new york, the brooklyn museum, the san jose museum of art, california; the museum of contemporary photography, chicago; museum folkwang, essen and the german museum for architecture, frankfurt. He has won first prize in the world press photo award competition on two occasions (2005 & 2010) and an honorable mention (2011.) in 2010, wolf was shortlisted for the prix pictet photography prize. He has published more than 13 photo books including bottrop ebel 1976 (peperoni press 2012) tokyo compression three (peperoni press/asia one 2012,) architecture of density (peperoni press/asia one 2012,) hong kong corner houses (hong kong university press, 2011) portraits (superlabo, japan,2011) tokyo compression revisited (peperoni press/asia one 2011,) real fake art (peperoni press/asia one 2011,) fy (peperoni press, 2010,) a series of unfortunate events. (peperoni press, 2010,) tokyo compression (peperoni press/asia one 2010,) hongkong inside outside (asia one/peperoni press 2009,) the transparent city (aperture 2008) and sitting in china (steidl 2002). Source: photomichaelwolf.com Michael Wolf’s work examines life in the layered urban landscape, addressing juxtapositions of public and private space, anonymity and individuality, history and modern development. In a diverse array of photographic projects, from street views appropriated from Google Earth, to portraits capturing the crush of the Tokyo Subway, and dizzying architectural landscapes, Wolf explores the density of city life. Wolf currently lives and works in Hong Kong and Paris. His photographs are in the permanent collections at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Folkwang Museum, Essen, Germany; the Brooklyn Museum; the Cleveland Museum of Art; the Nelson-Atkins Art Museum, Kansas City; and the Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago among others, and have been exhibited at the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego (2011), Goethe Institute in Hong Kong (2010), Fotographie Museum, Amsterdam (2010), Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago (2008), Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2008), and the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (2008), among others. Wolf was awarded First Place in the 2010 World Press Photo Award Contest in the Daily Life category, and was shortlisted for the 2010 Prix Pictet. Wolf's numerous monographs include Tokyo Compression Revisited (Peperoni Books, 2011), Real Fake Art (Peperoni Books, 2011), Tokyo Compression (Peperoni Books, 2010), Hong Kong: Inside/Outside (Peperoni Books, 2009), The Transparent City (Aperture and MoCP, 2008), Hong Kong: Front Door/Back Door, (Thames & Hudson, 2005), and Sitting in China (Steidl, 2002). Source: Robert Koch Gallery Michael Wolf was born in 1954 in Munich, Germany. He grew up in the United States, Europe and Canada, and studied at UC Berkeley and at the Folkwang School in Essen, Germany. In 1994, Wolf moved to Hong Kong and worked for eight years as a contract photographer for Stern magazine, until he left to pursue his own projects. Wolf's photographic work in Asia focuses on the city and its architectural structures, and follows on from his interest in people and human interaction. He has published seven photobooks to date. Wolf's work has been exhibited extensively in galleries and art fairs throughout the world since 2005, and is held in permanent collections across the US and Germany. Wolf has won previously won a World Press Photo award, a first prize in Contemporary Issues stories in 2005. Source: World Press Photo
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The 2017 compilation Musik was produced by Tom Lunt, and released on Secretly Canadian. In 2018, Áine O'Dwyer performed the music on a pipe organ at the Big Ears music festival in Knoxville. Source: Wikipedia William Eggleston assumes a neutral gaze and creates his art from commonplace subjects: a farmer's muddy Ford truck, a red ceiling in a friend's house, the contents of his own refrigerator. In his work, Eggleston photographs "democratically"--literally photographing the world around him. His large-format prints monumentalize everyday subjects, everything is equally important; every detail deserves attention. A native Southerner raised on a cotton plantation in the Mississippi Delta, Eggleston has created a singular portrait of his native South since the late 1960s. After discovering photography in the early 1960s, he abandoned a traditional education and instead learned from photographically illustrated books by Walker Evans, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Robert Frank. 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Eggleston has published his work extensively. He continues to live and work in Memphis, and travels considerably for photographic projects. Source: The Getty Museum
André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri
France
1819 | † 1889
André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri (French: 28 March 1819 - 4 October 1889) was a French photographer who started his photographic career as a daguerreotypist but gained greater fame for patenting his version of the carte de visite, a small photographic image which was mounted on a card. Disdéri, a brilliant showman, made this system of mass-production portraiture world famous. Disdéri began his working life in a number of occupations, while also studying art. He started as a daguerreotypist in Brest in 1848 or 1849 but in December 1852 or January 1853 he moved to Nîmes. There he received assistance from Édouard Boyer and Joseph Jean Pierre Laurent with his photography-related chemistry experiments. After a year in Nîmes he moved to Paris, enabling easy access to people who would be the subjects of his cartes de visite. Photographs had previously served as calling cards,[6] but Disdéri's invention of the paper carte de visite (i.e. "visiting card") photograph second enabled the mass production of photographs. On 27 November 1854 he patented the system of printing ten photographs on a single sheet (although there is no evidence that a system printing more than eight actually materialized). This was the first patent ever for a carte de visite. Disdéri's's cartes de visite were 6X9 cm, about the size of conventional (nonphotographic) visiting cards of the time, and were made by a camera with four lenses and a sliding plate holder; a design inspired by the stereoscopic cameras. The novelty quickly spread throughout the world. According to a German visitor, Disdéri's studio became "really the Temple of Photography - a place unique in its luxury and elegance. Daily he sells three to four thousand francs worth of portraits". The fact that these photos could be reproduced inexpensively and in great quantity brought about the decline of the daguerreotype and ushered in a carte de visite craze as they became enormously popular throughout Europe and the United States. So great was the publicity that all of Paris wanted portraits. Disdéri also invented the twin-lens reflex camera. The great French photographer Nadar, who was Disdéri's competitor, wrote about the new invention in his autobiographical "Quand j'étais photographe", "about the appearance of Disdéri and Carte de Visite... It spelled disaster. Either you had to succumb - that is to say, follow the trend - or resign." At the pinnacle of his career, Disdéri was extremely wealthy and renowned; but like another famous photographer, Mathew Brady, he is reported to have died in near poverty. By the end of his life, Disdéri had become penniless. He died on 4 October 1889 in the Hôpital Ste. Anne in Paris, "an institution for indigents, alcoholics, and the mentally ill". He was a victim of his own invention. The system which he invented and popularized was so easy to imitate that photographers all over the world took advantage of it.
Edouard Elias
I chose photography naturally. It is surely the result of a double education: separated between Egypt and France, I learned to consider images both as memories and objects that allowed me to transpose myself into places where I could only remain for a moment, but also as historical documents, more in accordance with my classical instruction. In addition, many cartoons have certainly trained me in a straight, frontal and clear frame, so I was very early aware of geopolitical events as well as of the problems of population movement linked to war or suffering. At the age of 18, after a A level, ignoring which way to choose, and to comply with family expectations, I went to a business school. It was not for me, no compatibility possible. I then attempted a reconversion in the school of photography in Nancy. It was a revelation, I was fitting in the right place. Different encounters, for example with the reporter Luca Catalano Gonzaga in Rome, with the books of the agency Magnum, with some documentaries on photography report, made me eager to watch History in progress, to live it through my camera and especially not to forget it. So, instead of completing my internship at the end of the year in an identity photo shop, I went to Turkey in the Syrian refugee camps and then to Syria, producing my first photoreport. My childhood allowed me to acquire the faculty of movement, not limiting myself to the borders of my village or the cities of my region. So I naturally started on the road of reporting. The conditions and the encounters engendered satisfy the need I have to answer personal questions. All the means necessary to photograph a human being in a difficult situation (pain, loss, war, poverty, suffering) result from a deep desire and a work on personal adaptability. Nevertheless, the essence of our work must be focused first and foremost on the subject. The results today of the image on the international scene leave me skeptical, but I think that these photographs, although they unfortunately are taking the risk of not changing the situation, will allow us to remember. I keep on practicing photo reportage. The Foreign Legion committed to the Central African Republic and then to its surroundings in France, punctuated my work for a year. Lebanon, Jordan on the Syrian refugee crisis with the organization Première Urgence Internationale, the Congo DRC on rape as a weapon of war and its doctor Denis Mukwege or the closed educational centers of the Judicial Police of Youth are, as well as the rescues of migrants in the Mediterranean, part of my subjects. Visa for the image allowed me to sell my first photographs of Aleppo in Syria, to meet professionals who will become dear friends. I have, besides my personal projects orders and projects to realize in France and I dedicate all of my activity to photography. My pictures have been published in: Paris Match, Der Spiegel, Sunday Times magazine, Time Lightbox, VSD, Le Monde, Figaro Magazine, Le Parisien Magazine, Polka, Le Point, Libération, LFI Leica international, Gala..."Source: edouardelias.net
Rip Hopkins
United Kingdom
1972
Born in England in 1972, Rip Hopkins studied industrial design at ENSCI (Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle) in Paris. Working with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders) he has made photoreportages and documentaries in numerous countries including South Sudan, Bosnia, Liberia, Uganda, Ingushetia, and East Timor. He joined Agence VU in 1996 and the following year received the Mosaïque Scholarship, the Kodak Young Photo-Reporter Award, the Observer Hodge Award and the Monographies Prize. In 2000, he was awarded the Fondation Hachette Scholarship to pursue his photographic work in Tajikistan. This led to his receiving the 2002 Fondation HSBC Award and the publication of Tajikistan Weaving (Actes Sud Editions). His book Displaced (Textuel Editions 2004) was produced with the support of the FIACRE Scholarship. Hopkins started photography when he was ten years old. It is his way of recording and documenting moments of his life and those of others. He sees photography as a tool presenting vast possibilities for intellectual and aesthetic expression. He combines his personal art work with the necessity of making a living, thus drawing on various means of support such as exhibitions, books, press work and films. This produces an on-going cycle: if a person sees a photograph then they know that it exists, so they can buy it, so the photographer can produce work and survive. So what is a photographer exactly? Ethnographer, artist, advertiser, teacher, crook, journalist, artistic director? Few professions are so diverse and so vague. A photographer is constantly confronted with questions such as: what is an image today? How long will it survive? How should it be made? Who wants it? What technique should be used? Should there be a point of view or a stand point? With each new project Rip asks himself these questions again and re-evaluates his role in today’s world. Rip Hopkins is a member of Agence Vu and is represented by Galerie Le Réverbère and by LT2. Source: www.riphopkins.com
Harry Gruyaert
Belgium
1941
Originally dreaming of becoming a film director, Harry Gruyaert studied at the School of Film and Photography in Brussels from 1959 to 1962. Shortly after he left Belgium at the age of 21, fleeing the strict catholic environment in which he was raised. Gruyaert travelled extensively across Europe, North Africa, Asia and the United States and lived in cities with a vibrant film and photography scene like Paris and London. During his first trip to New York in 1968, he discovered Pop artists like Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg. This encounter made him appreciate the creative potential of colour and encouraged him to search for beauty in everyday elements for the rest of his career. Around the same time Gruyaert befriended the American artists Richard Nonas and Gordon Matta-Clark and photographed their work. Further inspired by the visual impulses on his first trip to Morocco in 1969, he decided in the second half of the 1970s as one of the first photographers in Europe to commit himself entirely to colour photography. Gruyaert's cinematographic background instilled in him an aesthetic conception of photography. Rather than telling stories or documenting the world through his lens, he searches for beauty in everyday elements. His images are simply snapshots of magical moments in which different visual elements, primarily colour, form, light and movement, spontaneously come together in front of his lens. In his search for strong graphical images, Gruyaert focuses his camera on objects as much as on people, who are often reduced to silhouettes or rendered to plain colour fields. Unsurprisingly the countries he photographs are mostly identified by means of the subtle differences in colour palette and light, inherent to the local atmosphere, culture and climate, more than by the depicted subjects or scenes. Among his most well-known series are 'Rivages/Edges', featuring coastal views from around the world, that Gruyaert photographed out of a fascination for the rapidly changing light in these places. In the early 1970s, while he was living in London, Gruyaert worked on a series of colour television screen shots later to become the 'TV Shots' and now part of the Centre Pompidou collection. Around that time he regularly returned to his home country Belgium. This resulted in the series 'Roots', that perfectly reflects the Belgian Zeitgeist of the 1970s and 1980s. In 1982 Gruyaert joined Magnum Photos. More about Irish Summers
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Paul Brouns is a Dutch photographer who found his voice by capturing architecture. The urban landscape is his ideal playground for apprehending rhythm, color and geometrical elements. He is the winner of AAP Magazine 14 "Colors" with his project 'Urban Tapestries'. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exclusive Interview with Réhahn
Referred to as someone who "captures the souls of his models", (Wanderlust Travel Magazine, 2018) Réhahn is more than just a man behind a camera. Behind each click is a story. Whether the photograph shows a child with startling blue eyes, a woman pulling a needle through indigo fabric or a man walking alone down a brightly painted street, these are more than just images to Réhahn. They are the culmination of an experience. The stories of his subjects as well as his passion to learn more about their culture, diversity and changing traditions are what drives Réhahn's work.
Craig Varjabedian: Found Horizons
Craig Varjabedian's photographs of the American West illuminate his profound connection with the region and its people. His finely detailed images shine with an authenticity that reveals the ties between identity, place, and the act of perceiving. For Varjabedian, photography is a receptive process driven by openness to the revelation each subject offers, rather than by the desire to manipulate form or to catalog detail. He achieves this vision by capturing and suspending on film those decisive moments in which the elements and the spirit of a moment come together
Exclusive interview with Jacopo Della Valle
Jacopo Maria Della Valle is an Italian travel photographer who fell in love with photography at young age thanks to the influence of his father. Since then he has travelled to Europe, the USA, Cuba, Morocco and all over Asia. He is the winner of AAP Magazine 12 B&W with his project Bull Jumping. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exclusive interview with Giedo Van der Zwan
Giedo van der Zwan is a street photographer, writer and publisher from the Netherlands. He started working on a long-term project 'Pier to Pier' in 2017 and published his book in June 2018. He is the winner of AAP Magazine 8 Street. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exclusive interview with Eli Klein
Eli Klein Gallery has an international reputation as one of the foremost galleries specializing in contemporary Chinese art and continues to advance the careers of its represented artists and hundreds of other Chinese artists with whom it has collaborated. The Gallery has been instrumental in the loan of artworks by Chinese artists to over 100 museum exhibitions throughout the world. It has published 40 books/catalogues and organized more than 75 exhibitions of Chinese contemporary art at our prestigious venues in New York City.
Exclusive interview with Cayetano González
Cayetano González is a talented Spanish photographer and cinematographer who found his calling when his grandfather lend him his Leica. Since then he has directed commercials and shot several covers of major magazines. His work is influenced by the painters he admires like Sorolla, Velázquez, Rembrandt and Delacroix.
Exclusive interview with Mauro De Bettio
Mauro De Bettio is an Italian photographer who lives in Spain. His pictures are a visual story able to highlight unseen or ignored realities. A vital tool that can help bring about social changes. He is the winner of AAP Magazine 11 Travels. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Exclusive interview with Stéphane Lavoué
Stéphane Lavoué, is a French portrait photographer born in Mulhouse in 1976. He lives and works between Brittany and Paris. He is the winner of the Niépce Prize 2018. We asked him a few questions about his life and work.
Call for Entries
Solo Exhibition
Be Featured in our Apr 2021 Online Juried Solo Exhibition!